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Research Tips for Faculty Research Assistants

This guide supplements training for research assistants for law faculty.


The Bluebook can be daunting, and I bet no one is perfect at it. Regardless, your professor will likely want you to make your sources comply with Bluebook--at least enough that a law review editor reading the paper in six months, deciding whether or not to give it a publication offer, thinks it looks good enough. You want it to at least pass as Bluebook. Additionally, you want to make sure you are giving enough information about a source so that your professor can find it easily. 

As far as bluebooking goes, start with the easy, low-hanging fruit first. This page will give you some of those basics. Then, talk to a law librarian for harder sources when you are in doubt. Remember--academic research for your professor will use the white pages of the Bluebook. You likely only used the blue pages for your 1L legal research and writing course. The citations in the white pages will be different than you are used to, so please pay attention to that.

The most current version of the Bluebook is the 21st edition from 2020. You can use it in the Reserve Room in the law library or borrow a copy from Reference Services.

For the example citations below, you can look up the rule in the Bluebook to see an explanation of what each piece of the citation stands for (author, publisher, year published, page number, volume number, etc.)

Main Sources to Cite

1. Scholarly articles: Bluebook Rule 16

Example: Stephanie Plamondon Bair, Malleable Rationality, 79 Oʜɪᴏ Sᴛ. L.J. 17 (2018).

2. Books: Bluebook Rule 15

Example: W. Cᴏʟᴇ Dᴜʀʜᴀᴍ, Jʀ. & Bʀᴇᴛᴛ G. Sᴄʜᴀʀғғs, Lᴀᴡ ᴀɴᴅ Rᴇʟɪɢɪᴏɴ: Nᴀᴛɪᴏɴᴀʟ, Iɴᴛᴇʀɴᴀᴛɪᴏɴᴀʟ, ᴀɴᴅ Cᴏᴍᴘᴀʀᴀᴛɪᴠᴇ Pᴇʀsᴘᴇᴄᴛɪᴠᴇs (2d ed., 2019).

3. Chapter in a book written by an author who did not write the whole book (This generally means that there are no authors listed on the cover of the book, but rather have editors listed on the cover of the book.): Bluebook Rule 15.5. Bluebook calls sources like this "Shorter Works in Collection."

Example: Justin Collings, An American Perspective on the German Constitutional Court, in Tʜᴇ U.S. Sᴜᴘʀᴇᴍᴇ Cᴏᴜʀᴛ ᴀɴᴅ Cᴏɴᴛᴇᴍᴘᴏʀᴀʀʏ Cᴏɴsᴛɪᴛᴜᴛɪᴏɴᴀʟ Lᴀᴡ: Tʜᴇ Oʙᴀᴍᴀ Eʀᴀ ᴀɴᴅ Iᴛs Lᴇɢᴀᴄʏ 273 (Anna-Bettina Kaiser, Niels Petersen & Johannes Sauer eds., 2018).

4. Cases: Bluebook Rule 10

Example: McKee v. Cosby, 139 S. Ct. 675 (2019).

Commonly Mis-Cited Sources

1. Non-consecutively paginated periodicals (articles and magazines): Bluebook Rule 16.5

Example: John W. Welch, Joseph Smith’s Iowa Quest for Legal Assistance: His Letters to Edward Johnstone and Others on Sunday, June 23, 1844, 57 BYU Sᴛᴜᴅ. Q., no. 3, 2018, at 111.

2. Forthcoming articles and books: Bluebook Rule 17.3

Example: Stephanie H. Barclay, The Historical Origins of Judicial Religious Exemptions, Nᴏᴛʀᴇ Dᴀᴍᴇ L. Rᴇᴠ. (forthcoming 2020),

3. Unreported cases: Bluebook Rule 10.8.1

Example: Starr v. Robinson, 1814 WL 726 (Vt. July 1814).

4. Court documents (including transcripts, briefs, and other court filings): Bluebook Rule 10.8.3

Example of a court document for a case that does not have an opinion issued yet: Brief of Petitioner-Appellant at 48, United States v. Al-Marri, No. 03-3674 (7th Cir. Nov. 12, 2003).

Example of a court document for a case that does have an opinion issued: Complaint at 17, Kelly v. Wyman, 294 F. Supp. 893 (S.D.N.Y. 1968) (No. 68 Civ. 394).

5. Book reviews: Bluebook Rule 16.7.2

Example: Kif Augustine-Adams, Book Review, 98 Hɪsᴘ. Aᴍ. Hɪsᴛ. Rᴇᴠ. 352 (2018) (reviewing S. Dᴇʙᴏʀᴀʜ Kᴀɴɢ, Tʜᴇ INS ᴏɴ ᴛʜᴇ Lɪɴᴇ: Mᴀᴋɪɴɢ Iᴍᴍɪɢʀᴀᴛɪᴏɴ Lᴀᴡ ᴏɴ ᴛʜᴇ US-Mᴇxɪᴄᴏ Bᴏʀᴅᴇʀ, 1917-1954 (2017)).


Cross-references is a feature in Microsoft Word that allows you to do cross-references internally and automatically for footnotes that Bluebook has you doing supras and infras for. This is one of the reasons why Google Docs is not very useful for preparing an article to be submitted to a law review and journal for publication.

To Add a Cross-Reference:

  • Go to Insert --> Cross-reference.
    • This is either under the Insert tab or the Insert option at the top of your screen. Cross-reference is under the "Links" category if you are using the tab.
  • Under "Reference type," click "Footnote."
  • Under "Insert reference to," click "Footnote number."
  • Make sure "Insert as a hyperlink" is checked.
  • Under "For which footnote," select the footnote number you are wanting to supra or infra to. 
  • Click "Insert."

To Update a Cross-Reference:

  • Whenever you've made changes to footnotes (added new footnotes, deleted footnotes, etc.), to update the cross-references automatically, do the following:
    • Mac: command + a then f9 then when the prompt appears, click "Yes."
      • On my Macbook Pro, I need to hit fn, to then get the f9 button to work.
    • PC: ctrl + a then f9 then when the prompt appears, click "Yes."
  • You can update the cross-references as many times as you need. 


[1] See Simon Canick, Library Services for the Self-Interested Law School: Enhancing the Visibility of Faculty Scholarship, 105 Lᴀᴡ Lɪʙʀ. J. 175, 178 n.17 (2013); Harriet Richman & Steve Windsor, Faculty Services: Librarian-Supervised Students as Research Assistants in the Law Library, 91 Lᴀᴡ Lɪʙʀ. J. 279 (1999).

[2] Rowena U. Compton, The Student Assistant, 23 Lᴀᴡ Lɪʙʀ. J. 24 (1930).

[3] Richman & Windsor, supra note 1, at 280.

[4] Compton, supra note 2.

When in a Microsoft Word document, the "1" and "2" in footnotes 3 and 4 will be hyperlinked to their respective footnotes 1 and 2. Additionally, if a new footnote was added at the beginning, the "1" and "2" would update to "2" and "3" once you followed the update instructions above.



  • The shortcut for small caps in Microsoft Word is: 
  • for a Mac: command + shift + k 
  • for a PC: ctrl + shift + k
  • The shortcut for italics in Microsoft Word is: 
  • for a Mac: command + i
  • for a PC: ctrl + i
  • The shortcut for inserting a footnote in Microsoft Word is:
  • for a Mac: control + command + f
  • for a PC: alt + ctrl + f
  • Consider using the index in the back of the Bluebook to see if there is an applicable rule on a particular resource. I didn't know there was an index until I had been a law librarian for two years!
  • The bluebook exercises you did as a 1L in your legal research and writing course focused on the blue pages. Academic research that your professor is doing is focused on the white pages. One main difference is that case names are not italicized in the full case citation in a footnote. They are italicized in the main body text. They are also italicized in short citations.
  • URLs should not be hyperlinked.
  • When in doubt, include the URL at the end of the citation. It is easier to delete a URL than it is to go and find an article or webpage online later without a URL. I personally like to add URLs to forthcoming works if URLs are available.
  • If you want more help with the Bluebook, consider doing the bluebook exercises on LexisNexis Interactive Citation Workstation that are for law review. These are all the ones that start with "17." There are five categories for law review: Case Citations, State and Federal Statues, Legislative and Administrative Sources, Secondary Sources, and Short Forms.

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